Dear Abby: Invited on family vacation, girlfriend always says no

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DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend, “Ashley,” and I have been dating for three years. Every year I ask her to go on a trip with me to St. Louis where my parents live. It’s a weekend trip my parents sponsor for our entire family, and it involves a Cardinals baseball game. Every year she refuses to go.

When she invites me on her family fishing trip to New Mexico, I go. When I ask why she won’t do the same for my family trips, she makes excuses like she doesn’t want to get up early. Most people in my family are early risers. Ashley is not. I tell her she can sleep as long as she likes; no one will care.

I believe there is something else that Ashley isn’t telling me. I have expressed my unhappiness about this, but it does no good. I am to the point of just ending this relationship. I don’t understand her reluctance. I really want her to come with me and spend more time with my family. What can I do? — MYSTIFIED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR MYSTIFIED: Has Ashley met your family? If the answer is no, she may be afraid she won’t fit in or that they won’t like her for some reason. Unless you can get her to open up and tell you exactly why she won’t go, you will never be able to convince her. Because this has become such a sore point, you need to tell your girlfriend that her inflexibility has become a deal-breaker. If you do, you may have to be prepared to follow through.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for eight years, and my husband is a wonderful spouse when it comes to almost everything. My complaint may seem shallow, but please hear me out.

A couple of years back, he started buying me potted plants rather than cut flowers because “you get more for your money.” He buys me plants three or four times a year, and after receiving the third one I asked him to please go back to cut flowers. I neither like house plants nor want something I must find a place for in our yard.

Despite this, he continues to buy me potted plants every time. Each time he says he “forgot” I don’t want them. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I am really frustrated. Today I received my 10th one. I suppose I seem like a jerk, but I really don’t understand why he keeps buying me the one thing I asked him not to buy. Your thoughts? — KATHY IN WASHINGTON

DEAR KATHY: You appear to have married a man who is not only practical but also unimaginative when it comes to gift-buying. That he would continue to buy you something you have repeatedly told him you would prefer not to have seems the opposite of considerate to me. (On the other hand, many women would be glad that their spouse remembered any special occasion.)

Suggestion: The next time it happens, put HIM in charge of watering, replanting and caring for the plant, and things may change.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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